The Avenue

Hidden Figures

  • Directed by Theodore Melfi
  • Starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Glen Powell, Mahershala Ali
  • Rated PG
4 pulses

Hidden Figures is an awesome movie about people overcoming a system designed to defeat them. It features some great performances all across the board, and its leads are badass. Seriously, if you’ve been feeling down in today’s political climate, here is another great escape film. This film shamelessly plays on your heartstrings, but I never once minded. I think the main reason I didn’t mind was because this film never really seemed to dramatize its story. The most “dramatic” moment in the film did actually happen (John Glenn proudly talked about it later on in his life) and the movie does a good job to make itself feel pretty intimate, despite the grandeur.

This film is anchored by a terrific performance from Taraji P. Henson. Another snub at this year’s Oscars, Henson bursts onto the scene in a blaze of glory as the lead here, the snarky, way-smarter-than-you’ll-ever-be Katherine G. Johnson. This character is beautifully written by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, as is the rest of the supporting cast, which is almost as strong as Henson. Octavia Spencer is the big name here, and she is wonderful as always, but I was taken aback by Janelle Monáe. The pop singer has burst onto the acting scene this year with great performances in both Moonlight and Hidden Figures. Here she plays Mary Jackson, who is every bit as ambitious and snarky as Katherine. Mahershala Ali makes another strong supporting appearance, and co-stars Kevin Costner and Kirsten Dunst (I almost missed her, she looks so different) are good, too. In fact, Dunst had a wonderful character arc and even has one of the most emotionally impactful moments at the end of the film, mostly due to her great performance. The only weak link here, surprisingly, is Jim Parsons, who may be too famous in his most well-known role for his own good.

Glen Powell absolutely kills it as John Glenn. This dude is pretty much a no-name right now, but you better watch out because he’ll be exploding onto the scene after this film.

In addition to some wonderful acting performances and a great script, this film also had a great soundtrack. While the score is mostly invisible (which is a shame because it was composed by Hans Zimmer), the songs, mostly composed by the great Pharrell Williams, make up for it. They provide an extra layer of depth and make this a very fun and upbeat film to watch—hence, the reason why it’s the perfect escapism film to watch right now! The 1960-era set and costumes are good, but they are pretty standard for a period film like this. Honestly, everything outside the acting, script and soundtrack are pretty invisible, but I think that’s how director Theodore Melfi wanted it. This film is all about Katherine G. Johnson, and everything else you see is around just to help bolster her character. I don’t really have any complaints with this film other than the fact that its motives are very obvious, but is that really a bad thing? This is a great film through and through, and definitely worthy of your time.

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Read more of Joseph Kathmann’s reviews at Enter the Movies

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